The IDF’s intelligence unit, AMAN, is warning the Netanyahu cabinet that it is rapidly running out of military options to restrain the onslaught of Palestinian violence which has led to 180 dead and nearly 30 Israeli dead. It is telling the current right-wing government that the current scenario of serial terror attacks by random individuals could rapidly escalate into a revolt which sweeps up the entire Palestinian population. Another possibility, the army says, is for the armed Fatah Tanzim faction to join in the uprising, which would raise the lethality of the attacks against Israel. In such a situation, the West Bank itself, including Israeli settlements, could be embroiled in the violence, what AMAN is calling “a nightmare scenario.”
The army urges the political echelon to turn toward a political solution as the only one that has long-term viability. Unfortunately, such warnings are nothing new. The military and intelligence agencies regularly offer them. Then they proceed to escalate the violence themselves with targeted killings and ceasefire violations which draw Palestinian responses. It seems that they want to have it both ways: to present themselves as a moderate alternative to the war hawks in the civilian cabinet; while also being willing to draw the saber and strike hard against the nation’s enemies.
In a related development, the IDF has warned Netanyahu that the continuing downward spiral in Gaza will inevitably lead to another war. It recommends that Israel permit the building of a new harbor in Gaza, especially if it brings a commitment from Hamas to a long-term ceasefire. This would bring a massive increase in trade and relieve the profound poverty in the enclave. It might also undermine Hamas’ rule by offering alternatives to the populace in terms of commercial enterprise and outside influences Needless to say, hardline defense minister Bogie Yaalon has nixed the plan.
Yaalon and Netanyahu understand that their long-term political future depends on ongoing wars. They further understand that stability in Gaza would only bring more international pressure for a final agreement to end the overall conflict. Such pressure would mean compromises the far-right has no intention of ever acceding to including recognizing a Palestinian state with a shared capital in Jerusalem, and evacuation of many of the West Bank settlements. Doing this would destroy the viability of Likud’s ultra-nationalist majority which has ruled aside from brief intervals since 1977.